Jeremiah 33


This is one of the most difficult chapters to understand. The reason is, that there is no evidence that the Northern kingdom, Israel, came back from captivity. Jeremiah did prophesy the end of David’s line of kings in Jeremiah 22:30. Jeremiah also prophesied the end of the Levitical system in Jeremiah 33:16. So scholars are quick to challenge this.

So, what does it mean, in verse 17, when God says, ‘David will never fail to have a man to stand before the throne of the house of Israel, nor will the priests, who are Levites, ever fail to have a man to stand before me.’

Is there a contradiction here? We can do one of two things.

1. We can deny the authenticity of this chapter, that it wasn’t written by Jeremiah, but added by someone else later.

2. We can read it as a Messianic blessing, written to encourage those who were returning from Babylon.

I believe that the second reason must be correct. After all, the whole chapter seems to be speaking of the coming Messiah, so, why should this section be different?

A suggested outline for this chapter:

1. The siege of Jerusalem is in progress. Jeremiah 33:1-5.

2. God will bring health and healing to His people. Jeremiah 33:6-13.

3. The promise of the Messiah, the Righteous Branch. Jeremiah 33:14-18.

4. David and the Levitical priests. Jeremiah 33:19-22.

5. The promise to David and the patriarchs. Jeremiah 33:23-24.

‘While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the LORD came to him a second time: ‘This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says about the houses in this city and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used against the siege ramps and the sword in the fight with the Babylonians: ‘They will be filled with the dead bodies of the people I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness.’ Jeremiah 33:1-5

‘Call me’, Jeremiah, ‘and I will answer you’. Jeremiah is urged to pray by God, but why?

Perhaps because Jeremiah is in prison and becoming fearful and despondent. God needs him to be strong, after all, he still has further messages to deliver to the people. Jeremiah has no way of knowing what other penalties he will face from the people.

So, God gives him further messages. The first one presented to him is one of plunder upon the city. God has hidden His face ‘from this city because of all of its wickedness.’

God is said to hide His face, or veil His face, when:

1. He has no regard for human affairs. Psalm 10:11 ‘He covers His face and never sees.’

2. To show His displeasure.

Isaiah 54:8, God says, ‘I hid my face from you for a moment.’

God cannot look upon wrong. Some scholars believe that this is why Jesus Christ said from the cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

But we have to remember that God didn’t and never did turn His back on Jesus, not even on the cross.

‘They will be filled with the dead bodies of men.’ The idea seems to be here, as there wouldn’t have been time to bury the dead, they just threw them into the empty houses.

‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me.’ Jeremiah 33:6-8

Once again God states His plan to restore peace and plenty to the land. The reference to ‘forgiveness of sins’, is sufficient to prove that this section is Messianic.

Another proof that this is Messianic is the prophecy that both kingdoms, the Northern and the Southern, Israel and Judah, are promised a share in the blessings. A sure indication that every Jew, no matter from what tribe he comes, along with every other human nation, will receive the same blessing.

‘Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honour before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’ ‘This is what the LORD says: ‘You say about this place, ‘It is a desolate waste, without people or animals.’ Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, ‘Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.’ For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the LORD. ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without people or animals—in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks. In the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, flocks will again pass under the hand of the one who counts them,’ says the LORD. ‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfil the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.’ Jeremiah 33:9-14

The purpose of this plan of God is that His people will once again be a people to be respected. In doing this, God Himself will regain His reputation amongst all the nations. Judah, by her spiritual adultery, had dragged God’s name into the mud. Nations round about not only mocked the Jews but mocked the God of the Jews. And God was about to change that. All nations will praise God, and respect Him.

Maybe they will never submit to His truths, but there will be fear and trembling when they go against His people again. There will be sounds of joy and gladness. Judah will sing songs of praise to their God, for His mercy and goodness in allowing them to return home. The nation will also prosper again. There are some truly good and encouraging prophecies in this section.

As this was written while the siege was still in progress, while Jeremiah was still a prisoner, whilst Zedekiah is still king, this is a prophecy of what the desolation of the city will be like.

‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Saviour.’ For this is what the LORD says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’ The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘This is what the LORD says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’ The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘Have you not noticed that these people are saying, ‘The LORD has rejected the two kingdoms he chose’? So, they despise my people and no longer regard them as a nation. This is what the LORD says: ‘If I have not made my covenant with day and night and established the laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.’ Jeremiah 33:15-26

I said in the introduction that this was one of the most difficult chapters to understand. But really, the only difficulty is the presumed contradiction in verse 17, the supposition by some scholars that this predicts that there will always be a king in the line of David and there will always be priests like the Levites. All other Scripture references deny this supposition.

So, what is the answer?

This was written to God’s people. They, therefore, needed to understand what was being said. Words are just symbols, often used to express spiritual uses. The Jews could use these symbols. So, what we have here is this, the Davidic kingdom and the Levitical priesthood are symbols which represent, to the Jew, the continuation of God’s covenant.

The new covenant will come with the Messiah, when, in a sense, these two promises will continue, but in a different form. The Messiah, Jesus, is the king, who will be the king forever.

Under the new covenant, we Christians are the priests, and Jesus is the High Priest. Peter says, in 1 Peter 2:9 ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.’

So, what about those sacrifices that were offered continually by the priests?

Look at 1 Peter 2:5, ‘you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’

We could go on! Let’s look at another New Testament quotation, this time from Hebrews 13:15-16, ‘Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confirms his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.’

I believe that the New Testament clears up any problems some people might have with this section in Jeremiah 33.

God says, ‘I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line.’

Jeremiah doesn’t reveal as much about the coming Messiah as Isaiah does, but he restates what he said in Jeremiah 23:5, about the ‘righteous Branch’. And whoever this person is, he has this term ‘righteous’ or ‘righteousness’, referred to him twice. Here in verse 15, we have reference to his character, his way of judging. The second reference concerns his actions, the right way of living.

Read Isaiah 11:10-11 / Zechariah 6:11-14 / Revelation 22:16, all of these are talking about Jesus. A point that needs to be made quite clear here is that Zechariah 6 is not a fulfilment of Jeremiah 33:15.

The High Priest, Joshua, was a ‘type’ of the Branch, not ‘the’ Branch, which is Jesus Christ. I suppose that you could say that it is a play on words because the name Jesus in Hebrew was Yeshua or Joshua.

Notice back here in Jeremiah 33 that it is to be Jerusalem, representing Judah, which would be called the ‘Lord of Righteousness.’

This seems to be saying that the day would finally come when the people would be an example of holiness. David is never going to lack a man to sit on his throne, and the Levites will always have a man to stand before God as intercessor.

God places the impossible before Jeremiah. Genesis 1 tells us that God established the order of day and night. So, God is saying, if you. Jeremiah can break my covenant with day and night, and then my covenant with David and the Levites can be broken.

The nations surrounding Judah had thought that Judah and Israel had, had their day, but God is restoring the covenant. I suppose you could sum this up this way.

The Old Covenant will be restored until the Messiah, Jesus, arrives, and then a New Covenant will come into play, where Jesus is in the line of David, and the Levites, the priests, are those who are in the priesthood, Christians.

Things looked pretty bleak for God’s people at this time. Shortly they would go into exile in Babylon, for a period of 7O years. The glory of their past would be forgotten by many, it seems like the end of all hope.

But God had it all planned out, some of the descendants of David would return to their homeland. And, in the course of time Mary, a descendent of David through Nathan, would give birth to the Messiah, not in a palace, but a smelly Bethlehem stable.

Go To Jeremiah 34



"For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."